1 Timothy 3:16: Disproving Another “Proof” for Messiah’s Deity

Apr 24, 2015 | General |

Refuting another common “proof” verse for the deity of Messiah

This discussion will focus upon a verse that is repeatedly put forward as “proof” that Messiah is God incarnate. I will prove that the only “proof” that is presented is proof of an unrealistic, close minded bias in choosing which rendering of a questionable New Testament passage to accept. Those who claim this verse supports their mangod Messiah doctrine intentionally fail to inform their listeners or readers that the rendering that supports their view is questionable and that many translations other than the one they purposely select to support their claim do not support their mystery mangod teaching.

1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

I have longed with great anticipation to arrive at this verse since I know many feel it provides irrefutable proof that Messiah is “God in the flesh.” However, in truth is does not.

First, those who think this verse proves that Messiah is “God in the flesh” need to consider the context from which the verse is taken. For we find the following verse within that context in the chapter just preceding it:

1 Timothy 2: 5,6 (NASB)
5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

I show the verse from the New American Standard version; however, it says the same thing in others.

This is a very important verse, which leaves no doubt as to the distinction between the ONE God and Yeshua!

Paul states clearly there is only ONE God (not 3 in 1 or a oneness mangod) and – separately distinct from that God – there is also one MEDIATOR between God and men. That mediator is the man (not man-god) Yeshua the Messiah!

So, the verse presents a God and a separate mediator between that God and mankind.

Even the standard common sense understanding and definition of “mediator” has fallen victim to the outrageous “mystery” that Trinitarians and other mystery Babylon man-God promoters run to in order to avoid a rational discussion. What is a “mediator”?

mediator |ˈmēdēˌātər| noun: a person who attempts to make people involved in a conflict come to an agreement; a go-between. Example: The government appointed a mediator to assist in finding a resolution to the dispute.

It clearly implies two SEPARATE and DISTINCT entities.

Common sense (necessary inference) dictates that God and the mediator between God and man are NOT the same entity; therefore, the mediator Messiah Yeshua is NOT God! This clear, unambiguous statement from Paul to Timothy found just a few verses prior to the alleged “proof” verse used by the idolatrous mangod promoters must be kept in mind as 1 Timothy 3:16 is considered.

If that’s not enough to show that 1 Timothy 3:16 is misinterpreted then let me show more proof.

Yet another Scribal Corruption

Bluntly speaking, 1 Timothy 3:16 is a textbook example of scribal manipulation.  Depending upon which version of the Bible you read, it can have completely different meanings.  It is also a classic example of why the KJV-ONLY people ferociously censor and condemn any manuscripts other than those that support their biased beliefs.

Ok.  Here I will again quote from the KJV and the NASB.  The difference in the verses will be obvious.

1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels,
preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
received up into glory.
1 Timothy 3:16 (NASB)
16 And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Beheld by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.

You probably noticed the KJV says “God was manifest..”, whereas the NASB says “He who was manifest..”

To limit the length of this article I will not quote the entire passage from other versions; however, I will denote whether “He” or “God” is shown in those translations:

  1. The New Revised Standard Bible – He
  2. The English Version Bible – He
  3. The 1890 Darby Bible – God
  4. The Holman Christian Standard Bible – He
  5. Young’s Literal Translation – God (though all versions I’m referencing are “literal” translations)
  6. The Jewish New Testament – He (by the way, this is not a “Jewish” Bible.  The translator actually supports the trinity; therefore, he obviously did not bias his rendering of “He” to support an anti-trinity stance.)

Why the dramatic difference?  Why is there no firm agreement?  The simple answer is because some Greek manuscripts have it one way and some the other.  I will quote from Dr. Bart D. Erhman’s book, THE ORTHODOX CORRUPTION OF SCRIPTURE in an attempt to further explain the problem.  He discusses this very verse in 2 pages of his book and presents hard evidence that the relative pronoun “Who” was intentionally changed by a scribe to “God” possibly as early as the third century.  (Note: the “who” is often rendered as “he”; therefore, “who” may be an even better rendering.)

This just happened to be precisely during the most hostile time during which the debate raged as to whether or not the Messiah is God.  Those of you that think believers have ALWAYS considered Yeshua to be “God in the flesh” are VERY badly mistaken.  Let us hear the words of Dr. Erhman.  My comments will be included in parenthesis.

“…Precisely here, however, is the textual problem; for the relative (Who) has been subjected to alteration in the course of the text’s transmission. …there are reasons for suspecting that the change was not an accident.

It should first be observed that four of the uncial witnesses (manuscripts) that attest “God” do so only in corrections (like you and I would cross out a word and write a new one – unfortunately for them the ink did not erase well so they left evidence of the crime).  This shows not only that “God” was the “preferred” reading of LATER scribes but also that it did not creep into tradition unawares.  Second, we cannot overlook what the reading “God” provides for the orthodox scribe – a clear affirmation of the doctrine that God became incarnate in the person of Yeshua Christ.  This certainly is the orthodox “mystery”: it was “God” who was “manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit,” etc. (in other words the scribes couldn’t let the opportunity pass to “tweak” the manuscript to “support” their own personal bias or the bias of the one paying them to copy the manuscript.)

That the reading “God” cannot be original is shown both by the character of the manuscript attestation – the earliest and superior manuscripts all support the relative (Who) – and by the fact that ancient creedal fragments typically begin precisely in this way, that is, with a relative pronoun.  The change must have been made fairly early, at least during the third century, given its widespread attestation from the fourth century on. (Council of Nicaea was in the 4th century – 325CE)  It can therefore best be explained as an anti-adoptionistic corruption (intentional change) that stresses the deity of Christ.”

Dr. Erhman defines the beliefs of adoptionists as:

“Adoptionists believed that Messiah was a full flesh and blood human being, who was neither literally preexistent nor (for most adoptionists) born of a literal virgin.  Messiah was born and lived as all other humans.  But at some point of his existence, usually his baptism, Messiah was adopted by God to stand in special relationship with Himself and to mediate His will on earth.  Only in this sense was he the “Son of God”: Messiah was not divine by nature, but was human in every sense of the term.”

So, 1 Timothy 3:16 is probably a corrupted passage, and my review of numerous literal translations show that the more modern translations which have more manuscript evidence to use for their versions, generally do not translate the term as “God.”  The evidence definitely leans in favor that it was not talking about The Living God and that the term “God” was a premeditated scribal manipulation of the text; however, I will not press the issue.  Instead, I will show grace to the Trinitarians and simply declare it inconclusive AT BEST!  Those who disagree with me do not usually show such grace and staunchly refuse to admit the ambiguous nature of the 1 Timothy 3:16 passage.

More proof that 1 Timothy 3:16 is misused

Ok, how about yet more proof that 1Timothy 3:16 cannot possibly be referring to God as the one “manifest in the flesh.”  Let me once again provide the verse from the two aforementioned translations:

1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels,
preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
received up into glory.
1 Timothy 3:16 (NASB)
16 And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Beheld by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.

This verse states the following regarding the person being referenced:

  1. He as “justified” or “vindicated” in the spirit,
  2. He was “seen” or “beheld” by angels,
  3. He was Proclaimed among the nations or preached to the gentiles,
  4. He was believed on in the world,
  5. He was received up into glory.

My focus will be upon the items shown in bold letters in the list above.

1. He was “justified” or “vindicated.” … Are those who believe that Messiah is “God in the flesh” wishing us to believe that God needs to be “justified?”  Friend, God needs no “justification”; therefore, the verse cannot possibly be referring to God.

2. He was “seen” by angels.  … Are those wishing us to believe that Messiah is God wishing us to believe that the angels had never seen God?  That is stupidity to assume such an outrageous idea.  Not only had God been “seen” by the angels (as in had been “understood”), He was their creator!  However, Messiah was not “seen” until he was born on earth; therefore, it perfectly applies to the true Messiah while clearly showing the concept that Messiah is God to be a silly and ridiculous idea.

3. He was received up into glory. … Are those wishing us to believe that Messiah is God wanting us to think that God had to be received up into glory?  That is yet another fanciful and crazy concept since God was already glorious and had no need to be received up into any sort of glory.  He is and always has been in glory.  However, such a statement would perfectly fit a truly human, nonGod Messiah.

The other two items listed could apply to either God or Messiah; therefore, they contribute nothing to the issue.  However, their application would fit the HUMAN, nonGod Messiah Yeshua probably better, particularly given the clear reference to a nonGod Messiah in the other 3 listed items.

Thus, when the clear statement from Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5,6, the strong proof of possible scribal corruption, and the obvious reference of the listed items just discussed to Messiah and NOT to God are considered, then it is obvious that 1 Timothy 3:16 does NOT prove the deity of Yeshua the Messiah regardless of what mangod Messiah promoters say.

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